Madeline Kunin broke ground as the first woman governor of Vermont and the only woman to serve three terms as governor before making history again as ambassador to Switzerland, facilitating compensation from Swiss banks to Holocaust survivors. Kunin began her career as a journalist, and while she set her work aside to raise a family, she continued to raise awareness of local issues, lobbying to build sidewalks and educate the community about healthcare proposals. As the women’s movement gained ground, Kunin campaigned for political office, winning a seat in the Vermont state legislature in 1972. In 1984, she won the governorship, passing important legislation on education, the environment, and reproductive rights, as well as hiring an unprecedented number of women to key positions. In 1991, she began work for the Clinton administration as deputy secretary of education and later ambassador to Switzerland, the country where she had been born before her family fled the growing Nazi threat. As ambassador, Kunin helped Swiss banks create compensation funds for Holocaust survivors. After leaving the ambassadorship in 1999, Kunin returned to Vermont to write, to teach, and to serve as a commentator for Vermont Public Radio.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Madeleine Kunin." (Viewed on December 8, 2016) <https://jwa.org/people/kunin-madeleine>.